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Sun Apr 18, 2021, 06:45 PM

The union's defeat at Amazon is shaking up the labor movement and exposing a rift between organizers

By Eli Rosenberg and Jay Greene
April 18, 2021

J.C. Thompson works the night shift at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Ala., a job he started after his work as a hospice chaplain dried up at the beginning of the pandemic.

He says he’s not anti-union but was never a supporter of the effort at the facility. He appreciated the stability of the job and felt the pay and benefits that the company provided were as good as anything a union could negotiate.

His experiences with organizers gave him no reason to change his mind, Thompson said. He received some text messages and phone calls, including one where he says a union supporter suggested workers could make $20 an hour, about $5 more than the starting wage at the facility. But Thompson questioned how that would be possible, and the caller did not answer with specifics, he said. Organizers never tried to make the case for the union away from work, at his home in person.

...the fight over the union’s tactics spilled into open view last week on social media, where organizers and worker advocates debated the RWDSU’s track record and strategy, and in left-leaning publications like The Nation, where veteran organizer-turned-scholar Jane McAlevey wrote a blistering critique of what she identified as mistakes made by the union.

Chief among these were the union’s decision to go forward with the election with less than a resounding majority of support, McAlevey wrote. She also pointed to the union’s decision to skip house calls in favor of the phone banking campaign experienced by workers like Thompson. She said organizers should have done “public structure tests,” where a majority of workers demonstrate their support publicly in a petition or poster to show solidarity. And there was too much focus in the news media and elsewhere on the “out-of-state superstars” who joined the effort like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and professional athletes.

Full story: https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/04/18/after-amazon-bessemer-union-fight-labor-movement/

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Reply The union's defeat at Amazon is shaking up the labor movement and exposing a rift between organizers (Original post)
SouthBayDem Apr 18 OP
Metaphorical Apr 18 #1

Response to SouthBayDem (Original post)

Sun Apr 18, 2021, 07:11 PM

1. I'm not surprised by this

I'm not sure that unions are dead, but especially among younger people there just isn't the perception that unions provide all that much value to them. Part of this comes from the fact that it is far easier today to act collectively than it was when unions were at their strongest in the 1950s, and the increasingly consultative nature of the workforce coupled with the fact that unions often tend not to have any real impact for contract workers makes it a hard sell at best to push unions especially into technically oriented companies. It's unfortunate, but I've known technical union organizers, and all too often they are disturbingly unaware of how their prospective members think.

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